March 28, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 25 South Carolina returns to Carolina Tennis Center hosting No. 53 Arkansas on Fri., March 29 at 5 p.m. and No. 33 LSU on Sun., March 31, at 1 p.m. The Gamecocks (13-7, 3-3 SEC) are coming off their first SEC weekend sweep since 2006 and are looking to extend that win streak to the longest since that same season. Admission to both matches and parking in the Athletics Village Garage on Heyward Street are free.
“I’ve seen a lot of excitement from our guys [this week],” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “They’re excited to see where their tennis has gotten and where it can possibly go. As a team, we are now competing 100 percent as a team. We have six strong points on the court right now.”
South Carolina’s wins last weekend moved it into the top 25 for the first time since spending the week of Feb. 28, 2012, ranked No. 22. The Gamecocks’ individual performances also added several names to the national rankings. South Carolina’s top two doubles tandems now have national rankings as Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov’s win over the nation’s third-ranked duo from Auburn catapulted them up the rankings from No. 50 to No. 21. The Gamecock pairing clinched the doubles point in both matches last weekend after the team of Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies set the table with its third and fourth consecutive victories. Three of those were against ranked opponents, moving the duo into No. 55 in the nation with a 12-4 record that includes a 4-2 mark in SEC play.
In singles action, Andrew Adams improved to 4-1 in SEC play with a pair of wins last weekend, and his 11-6 overall record, which includes three wins over ranked opponents, moved him into No. 90 in the country. The sophomore gutted out a three-set win on Sunday at Alabama to clinch the Gamecocks’ victory over the then-26th ranked Crimson Tide. Koch continued his stellar SEC play, winning both his singles matches to stay undefeated in league play. South Carolina also got key wins from new sources last weekend as Menzies clinched the 5-2 win at then-No. 35 Auburn with a three-set comeback while Cox also secured his first league win of the season against the Crimson Tide.
“We’ve beaten several good teams this year, so we’ve earned that top-25 ranking,” Goffi said. “The greatest thing I heard from the team is that they aren’t satisfied with that, though. So, it’s all perspective on how you approach the situation. We always try to be the hunter, not the hunted. This weekend, we still give the team something to hunt for. We’ve given each guy something to gain individually, and we’ve given the team something to gain also. We want to go out and play loose, but at the same time still hunt for something.”
Arkansas is 12-10 on the season and 0-7 in the SEC after dropping two tough matches to Ole Miss and Mississippi State last weekend. The Razorbacks have struggled at every singles position in SEC play, but the doubles team of Manfred Jeske and Mike Nott are ranked 35th in the nation this week with an 8-8 overall record and a 3-4 mark in SEC action. Nott has been the most productive Razorback in SEC singles play as well, notching a pair of wins in the No. 4 spot in the order.
LSU brings an 8-7 record into the weekend and is looking to carry the momentum of a 4-3 win over then-No. 7 Ole Miss last weekend into this weekend’s action, which begins at Florida on Friday. Sophomore Chris Simpson leapt into the singles rankings this week after a pair of ranked wins, including one over the nation’s 15th-ranked player. His 7-8 dual-match record brings him in at No. 82 in the nation. Simpson also teams with senior Stefan Szavinski to form the nation’s 43rd-ranked doubles team, although the duo has not played together the last four matches.
The Gamecocks are in the final weeks leading to the SEC Tournament. South Carolina makes its final road trip of the regular season next weekend, traveling to No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 10 Ole Miss for Friday and Sunday matches, respectively.